The Guardian today reveal issues with the new college-decided 16-19 bursaries for students remaining in further education. Predictably not all colleges are playing fair in the way they provide the money nor is it necessarily getting to everyone who needs it. I say predictably because my New Statesman article last May warned about such dangers.
The patchy nature is not inevitable. Several schools have put in place transparent procedures supporting the most vulnerable students in the time of need. But the formulae for working out how much a school get is significantly flawed and the compulsion to provide children in care with cash means that a school with a disproportionate number of fostered students will find their bursary diminished before they even begin. As note in my NS article that children in care are supported is absolutely imperative. It was my number one concern when I first heard about the dismantling of EMA, but if a college thinks their entire bursary will be taken by students might the compulsion create a perverse incentive not to take such students? Could it be that a college turns to a student and says, “We would love to take another student on full bursary but we simply don’t have the cash?”
Cuts are inevitable, but how you do it is as important as who you do it to and why. Don’t say you weren’t warned.